Human Wildlife Conflict

As carnivore populations started to increase in Gonarezhou National Park, so did conflict with the surrounding communities. In response, in partnership with the Gonarezhou Conservation Trust and the Wildlife in Livelihoods Development Program, we established a Human Wildlife Coexistence (HWC) program around the park, under the auspices of the Chilojo Club.

MEMORANDUM OF ASSOCIATION

The current team consists of three field-based HWC monitors and one HQ based coordinator. This dynamic, hardworking and well trained team have earned the trust and respect of the targeted communities and made significant headway in helping these households coexist with the wildlife that surrounds them.

Although AWCF’s conservation focus is on large carnivores, the program includes all wildlife species, in order to try and change mind-sets – and eventually behaviour – towards wildlife in general. Elephants, buffalo and crocodiles are the main problems besides the carnivores (mostly hyenas and lions). The 2016 Annual Report can be downloaded below.

Download Report

The majority of people living adjacent to the Gonarezhou National Park are poor, and depend on subsistence farming for a living. Loss of crops or livestock can have a significant impact on livelihoods and consequent retaliation can have a significant impact on wildlife populations.

Our team of HWC monitors live full time in the worst affected communities, and respond to 100% of conflict reports, be it by phone (for minor incidences) or site visits. There is an established and effective HWC reporting and response protocol in place, developed with the community, and four hotline numbers which can be contacted free of charge to report a problem.

As well as responding to incidences, the team also works with households and farmers to help them improve their livestock management or better protect their crops in order to mitigate potential future problems. HWC workshops are held in all 14 wards around the park twice per year, where conflict mitigation methods are discussed and communities have the chance to comment on different approaches trialled.

Reporting & Response ProtocolCommunity Photos

Over 5,000 households benefit directly from the program, and we plan to expand our reach to a further 5,000 households during 2018, with the employment of three more HWC monitors.

People have benefitted through direct help with kraal improvements, advice on protecting their grazing herds, demonstrations of chilli projects to help protect crops from elephants and awareness regarding human safety around wild animals. Practical intervention is sometimes necessary as well. In recent months, the team have safely moved a pangolin back into the park (at the request of the community who found it) and captured and translocated a problem lion who had been killing livestock.

Often, just knowing that someone cares and is there to help makes a difference as well, and even in just one year of operation we have noticed a measurable improvement in attitudes to wildlife.

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